If you want freedom in your life, you have to come to terms with your inner critic. How does the inner critic develop based on your enneagram type? It develops based on the fears of each kind. The Enneagram is … Continue reading
The Enneagram Type that is most likely to have anxiety is called The Loyalist, and its also known as Type Six.
If you are a type six personality, this is what you may experience:
· You have a hard time trusting yourself
· You have a tendency to ask others for advice
· You have a tendency to worry about things that are unlikely to happen
· You experience anxiety
· You quickly get caught up in fear
· You like to fix things before they become a problem
· You want to keep yourself and those you love safe
· You like everyone to follow the rules
· As the names suggests you are loyal to those you love and work with
· You love it when everyone is working well together
· Some Loyalists deal with their anxiety internally, while others push against their fears.
All people experience stress, and as we have all types in us. The suggestions I am about to offer will be helpful for anyone.
Here are eleven ways to reduce anxiety:
Type six personalities are most likely to have anxiety. People with anxiety have overactive minds that need quieting down. People who identify as Loyalist tend to focus more on the past and the future than the present.
Your goal is to learn to live in the moment with all your inner wisdom available to you. When you become free from the past and future, the world no longer feels so scary.
Meditation takes you into the present. There is no wrong or right way to meditate. You can turn a walk or gardening into a time of meditation. Any activity that helps you to quiet your mind will help you to relax.
There are Apps such as “Insight Timer” that is available at both the App Store and Google Play.
Use this reflective time to notice what is going on in your body, in your emotions, and in your mind. Just allow yourself to be present with what you are experiencing without trying to do anything about it.
The more you are able to stay with your sensations, emotions and thoughts the less you will react. The less you react, the more clearly you will be able to make important decisions for yourself.
If you are not breathing, you are dead. This is true. Yes, it doesn’t take any thought to breathe. Yet, when we do this with intention we can become more relaxed and home in our bodies.
The more anxious we get, the more and more we breathe shallowly. When you are not breathing deeply, you are no longer present in your body.
Notice this the next time you get anxious. Just with a minute of intentional deep breathing can bring you back into your body.
The wonderful thing is that you can do this anywhere without others even knowing you are doing it.
All you need to do is to breathe in slowly and slowly let it out. You can do this as many times a day as you need to. Please don’t overdo this breathing as it can cause you to hyperventilate.
This should help you to relax. If it is making you worse you are probably trying too hard.
If you are a type six, you are most likely to have anxiety. Your mind can quickly get out of control. It gets out of control when you focus on things you have no power over. Writing out your fears can help you to let go of them.You can brainstorm onto paper all the things you are worried about. This in itself can help you to quiet your mind.
The next step is to ask yourself if these fears have any validity to them. What is true? What is the kernel of truth? What can you let go of?
For example, you may be worried about your annual job review. Your mind might be getting the best of you, worrying about all sorts of scenarios that are unlikely to happen.
As you calm down with breathing, ask yourself what the kernel of truth is. Maybe it is that your job is important to you. The rest are lies. Your experience at work will probably tell you that you have nothing to worry about.
If the worst-case scenario of being fired comes true, will the world end? The world is not going to end. You will go through a challenging time, but you will find a new job. In the end, all will be well.
Ritual can help you to find inner peace. Ritual, helps you to remember that you are part of something more significant. These daily, weekly, monthly or yearly routines help you to remember that you have a place in this world.
Ritual does not have to be religious. Ritual can include sitting down and having a cup of-of coffee before you go to work. The ritual can involve sitting down with your family for supper every night. Ritual can acknowledge significant occasions in our life such as birth, adolescence, becoming an adult, leaving home, the first job, getting married, having children, college, retirement, and death.
Ritual helps you to know that you are on a journey and you are not alone. It reminds you that you have worth. It tells you that you have a purpose in the world. It reminds you that you have an essential role to play.
5. Naming Your Inner Critic:
You have an inner critic. Any person with an active inner-critic is most like to have anxiety. It is the part of your ego that tries to keep you safe. You could not have survived in your early years of life without it.
It is that negative voice within you that is putting you or others down. It is the ego trying to keep you to what it knows.
When you are stuck in the world of your inner critic, life is going to be very stressful. It limits your response to life and leads you to act in ways that are no longer healthy for you.
For us to get healthier, you need to start becoming aware of how you respond to stress in life. There are many tools available to you to help you become conscious of how you react to the ups and downs of life.
I recommend to you the Enneagram Personality system. It shows you what to watch out for and gives you tools to help you become more attuned to your body, emotions, and mind.
With time and practice, you will catch yourself in the act. What I mean is you will start to notice when you are acting out an old pattern that you know longer want to do.
You will eventually get to the point where you will become aware just before you were going to do it and will then have the opportunity to act in new ways.
6. Be your self:
You are in charge of your own life. When you are online with your three energy centers, you will know how you are meant to live your life.
Your body will let you know what it needs to be healthy. Your heart will let you know how you are to make a difference in the world. Your mind will help you to make your life what you want it to be.
To be yourself you need to listen to the wisdom within you. You will inwardly know the direction you need to go.
Don’t worry what others think of you. If you are on the right path just let go of all the expectations family and friends have of you. In the end, they will respect you for the choices you have made.
7. Seek community and support:
You need people in your life to be healthy. Being real with other can help us to be more at peace.
Seek out friends and family you can trust. Let them know what is going on with you. You can do the same for them. Just speaking what you are experiencing can reduce anxiety significantly.
Go and enjoy activities with friends and family. Having some fun is one of the best ways to overcome anxiety. Find a friend who helps you to laugh. Laughing is therapeutic.Sometimes you will need to get professional help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. This is a sign of strength and not weakness.
There are many counselors, coaches and healing practitioners out there. Ask friends and family for suggestions. When you go to your first session ask questions to help you discern if they are the right match for you.
8. Celebrate Life:
You are given a short time on the planet earth. Use your time for the best.
What do you want to achieve in life? What experiences do you want to have? Don’t keep putting these off. If you really want to do something whether that is going on a trip, learning something new and/or going back to school, make it happen.
Figure out a way to make your dreams a reality. Don’t be afraid to spend money on your self if that investment will help you to do what you have been called to do.
Make sure you take time to play. If you don’t have children in your immediate family find someone else’s children who can teach you to play again.
Play music, dance, make art, write, garden, cook, enjoy good food and sing. Do this until your heart is overflowing with joy!
9. Love Your Self:
Loving yourself is critical to your wellbeing! There is a big difference between being self-righteous and loving yourself. When you are self-righteous, you are only concerned about yourself. When you love yourself, this is not just for you, but it is also for your friends and family.
A happy, healthy you is the best gift you can give to the world. When you are at your best, you bring your best self to the world.
You love yourself by taking care of your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. What do you need to do more of? What do you need to do less of?
10.You don’t need to be fixed:
You are perfect just the way you are.
Some of us are more likely to have anxiety. This is part of the human condition.
Instead of finding ways to fix yourself, learn to accept yourself just as you are. Don’t try to hide the emotions, sensations, and thoughts that make you feel uncomfortable.
Allow the sensations and emotions to surface and just be with them. With intentional deep breathing the emotions, sensations, and thoughts become less and less overwhelming.
11.It doesn’t have to be this way!
You may be a person that is more likely to be anxious. All of us face anxiety at some time in our lives. But the good news is that we don’t need to allow anxiety to continue interfering with your life.
If you identify with type six, the Loyalist, you are more likely to experience anxiety. Yet no matter what type we may identify with being anxious is part of the human condition.
If you work through these eleven suggestions, you will be able to tame your anxiety.
There is no magic solution. Healing from anxiety is a long-term process. It may never totally disappear, but you will experience more joy and ease in your life the more you come to terms with it.
You will find some of these suggestions more helpful for you than others. Explore these activities and see what works best for you.
No matter what happens to remember you are not alone. You have friends and family to help you. When you need more help, there are psychiatrist, counselors, coaches and other healing practitioners.
Roland Legge offers life/executive coaching and Enneagram workshops through REL Consultants. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478 or book your appointment online Please click on “Discovery Call.”
Originally Published on the REL Consultants Blog
Do you believe that anything’s possible? All of us have great potential. There are more possibilities in life than you can imagine. You Are Born With A Richness Of Gifts So much is possible in your life! You have great value … Continue reading
How many times have you asked yourself what is my purpose in this world? There are hundreds of books out there telling you how to do it. How many books have you read? No matter how much you have read, you must determine your process to find the direction for your life. Here is what nobody tells you about finding your purpose.
Discover Your Process
There is a fantastic tool called the Enneagram that can help you to find your path in life.
What is the Enneagram?
Have you heard of the Enneagram? It has changed my life. It can change yours. Working with the Enneagram provides a process for you to find your calling in life. How can it help you?
It helps you to become as present as you can be in the three centers (Head, Heart, and Body). Your job is to become self-aware and open. A good place to start is to name your energy center and to find out what type you are.
This psychological/spiritual teaching suggests that at the beginning of your life your inner-self chooses one of nine different ways to survive in the world which connect to one of three energy centers: Body, Heart, and Mind. For more information on these three power centers and nine types, please go to the Enneagram Institutes website:
At the beginning of life, connected to your body, heart, and mind, everything was in harmony. As you mature, the energy centers get distorted. Blinding you from fully experiencing the world as it is.
No Enneagram Type is Better than Another
No one Enneagram type is better than another. Each personality has its positive and negative attributes. In fact, your goal is to get as healthy as you can in all nine. You are much more than your personality.
If you are in the head center, like me, you may have far too much going on in your brain. Do you have constant conversations going on in your head? Do you worry more about the past and future than you focus on the present? On the positive side, you bring the gift of wisdom to the world.
If you are in the heart center, you might be more concerned with the needs of others than your own needs. If you want to care for others, you need to care for yourself. How good are you at taking care of yourself? On the positive side, you have the gift of knowing what others need, and if you pay attention, you also have the gift to know what you need.
If you are in the body center, you have a big heart but are fearful to show it. Once people get to know you, they will find you are one of the most compassionate people they have met. You have the gift of intuition which helps you to make wise decisions for yourself and your communities.
Finding Your Purpose
Finding your purpose is all about opening your three energy centers, the body, heart, and head. Discovering your Enneagram type gives you a tool to help you to get healthier through becoming more present.
You Are Amazing
You have an amazing body. How much have you learned from the sensations of your body? Take a moment right now to discern what is happening in your body. Are your muscles relaxed? What feelings are you experiencing in your body? What is your intuition telling you? Your body will let you know if you are in sink with your purpose.
You have a beautiful heart. How comfortable are you with your emotions? Take a moment to notice what is going on in your heart. Are you happy, in love, angry, frustrated, irritable? If you pay attention to your emotions, they will tell you much about what you need and give insight into building healthy relationships.
You have a brilliant mind. The struggle for many of us is that our mind gets too active. Your mind is at its best when the inner-conversation is quiet. If you learn what is important to you in life, you will know what you need to do in each moment.
When you are grounded in your body, open to your heart and a quiet mind you are at your best. You will know what your purpose is. It will be self-evident.
You Have What it Takes
Finding your purpose is not something you can force. What nobody tells you about finding your purpose is that it comes from becoming attuned to your three energy centers. It is not easy work unlearning old habits. But the rewards are more than worth it. The more present you can be for yourself the clearer the direction will be for your journey through life.
Roland Legge offers presence based life coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, and organizations to help them to be the best they can be. For more information, please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478 or book your appointment online Please click on “Discovery Call.”
This Article was first published at REL Consultants https://www.relconsultants.com/live-your-best-life-now-blog/finding-purpose
Sermon – June 12th 2016
4th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)
By Roland Legge
1 Kings 21:1-21a
By Roland Legge
Next Sunday we are going to take part in the sacred meal which we call communion. Why do we do it? We do it to remember Jesus. But even more importantly we do it because it gives us the opportunity to acknowledge that we are all part of God’s amazing family. This means that every person on earth is part of our family!!
Jesus is calling us to love our family even those we do not like. This is no easy task! But I have no doubt that this is what Jesus expects of us. Do you agree?
Our scripture passages today introduce us to two members of our family the religious people looked down upon. One of them, the so called “sinful woman” from the Gospel would be no different than a poor person would be today. Why was she condemned? She had been labeled a sinner. We do not know what her sins were even though she has been called a prostitute to this very day. She was certainly a woman that made all the righteous people uncomfortable.
We know she was a woman who had been touched deeply by Jesus. I am guessing that it was Jesus that helped her to recognize that she was loved by God even though she had sinned. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jesus had helped her to find meaning, purpose and hope in her life. This woman was so thankful to Jesus that she, with great emotion, shared her heart felt appreciation touching Jesus in intimate ways. This public demonstration of love probably made Jesus host’s even more uncomfortable.
Jesus new that she was sorry for her sins because of her genuine penitence, shown in her tears. Through the woman’s brokenness God was able to break through to her. Unfortunately, the Pharisees were too blinded to see the truth. Sadly, they could not see the beauty of the transformation taking place because of their denial of their own sinfulness. Would this sinful woman be welcome at your table?
Jezebel is a woman who would not be welcome at our table. Have you ever been called a Jezebel? If we have most of us would not take this as a complement. Over the centuries Jezebel has been labeled as evil personified. She was a woman to take seriously. But was she really as evil as we think? We are all a mixture of saint and sinner. Maybe if I give you another perspective of Jezebel you might feel more comfortable in inviting her to the family table.
Jezebel was a Queen and she took her role seriously. She was also a zealous follower of Baal. Her religion was different from her Jewish husband. It was an older religion. It had both male and female gods. Also, the gods of her religion seemed to be a lot less demanding. So it made sense for her to keep worshiping her god’s. But then she was seen as a threat by Elijah because she was promoting, what was for him, the wrong god. Jews were fervent in their belief in a single God rather than a religion of many gods. Barbara J. Essex sums up well for me a more accurate memory of Jezebel.
She was not a harlot or seductress. She was not involved in any sexual scenes. She was a woman from another culture and worldview trying to adjust in a new and strange land. She was not a villain to be eternally despised—she was religiously committed, politically savvy, determined, self-assured, bodacious, and clever. She was dedicated to her family and a zealous missionary for Baal. And she died as she lived—royally!
Bad Girls of the Bible by Barbara J. Essex The Pilgrim Press Cleveland Ohio 1999 pp. 63
Does this question your perspective of her? Are we now ready to invite Jezebel to the table?
Now back to our own time. Besides ourselves who are we going to invite to the table. It is obvious we are going to invite all our friends and family that we get along with. But who are the people the Spirit wants us to invite that we would rather not? I know there are people that would make me feel very uncomfortable. What about you?
Most weddings I have done in my life have been great. But once I began to prepare with a bride for a wedding she became very nasty and aggressive. She decided very quickly that she did not like me and was determined to not have me marry her. I didn’t. It was one of the very few times in my life when a person has made accusations against me that were far from the truth. I was angry and hurt. I was hurt again when the congregation invited someone I did not respect to be the celebrant for the wedding. But yet I know that this couple is invited to the table. I need to remember that the pastor who did the wedding should be invited to the table too. The miracle is that God invites us to the table no matter how imperfect we are.
I remember in grade one when I broke my leg I had the privilege to bring a classmate home after school to play. I remember there was one girl I did not want to bring home. But my mother made it very clear to me that she needed to be included. It would be wrong to exclude her. That was a powerful lesson for me. Yes, this girl I wanted to exclude needs to be invited to the table.
Inviting my ex-wife to the table would make me feel very uncomfortable. It is very tempting to blame all the problems of our marriage on her. I have come to a place in my life where I can be thankful for all I learned in my first marriage. I wouldn’t be as mature today if I had not gone through the trials and tribulations of my first marriage. I know I need to invite Yvonne to the table even if it will be difficult for me.
I do not believe that God is calling us to put ourselves in danger. But I do believe God is calling us to keep breaking down the walls between us. This is no easy job!! It is a lifelong calling. We might not get further than trying to see that of God in another person. It might not be more than naming an abuse which gives the abuser the opportunity to take responsibility for their behavior.
Who do you need to invite to the table? Who are the people you most despise? Who are the people who have a lifestyle that makes no sense to you? Who are the people that make you feel uncomfortable? Who are the people you feel inadequate around? We could fill our church several times over with the people we need to invite to our family table.
Are you ready to come to the table? God is expecting you!
Sermon – May 22nd 2016
Trinity Sunday (Year C)
By Roland Legge
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Do you believe in the Trinity? Most of us in the United Church would agree that we believe in the Trinity. But what does this really mean?
Our scripture invites us into a dialogue to discover the many ways we can experience the holy in our lives. In Proverbs we are told about Mother Wisdom who has been with us since the beginning of time. Mother Wisdom or Sophia is the very feminine image of the holy. She is loving, creative, compassionate, wise and just. She is in full relationship with God. Romans reminds us of the person of Jesus who gave us another lens to view God, not unlike Mother Wisdom and God. In the Gospel according to John we are reminded of the Holy Spirit who is again much like Mother Wisdom, God and Jesus.
The doctrine of the Trinity has come to be to help make sense of the mystery of the holy. It suggests that God is both one and three. God is relational. For example, God expresses itself through the Spirit. God expresses itself through Wisdom. God expresses itself through the person and spirit of Jesus and most importantly through each of us. I love this description of the Trinity by Brian McLaren:
“In the early church, one of the most powerful images used for the Trinity was the image of a dance of mutual indwelling. The Father, Son, and Spirit live in an eternal, joyful, vibrant dance of love and honor, rhythm and harmony, grace and beauty, giving and receiving. The universe was created to be an expression and extension of the dance of God – so all creatures share in the dynamic joy of movement, love, vitality, harmony, and celebration. But we humans broke with the dance. We stamped on the toes of other dancers, ignored the rhythm, rejected the grace, and generally made a mess of things. But God sent Jesus into the world to model for us a way of living in the rhythm of God’s music of love, and ever since, people have been attracted to the beauty of his steps and have begun rejoining the dance.” -Brian McLaren, Found in Translation
I imagine God as this creative energy that continues to animate life for each of us and all of Creation. If I just look around I will see, feel, and experience God. I see God in each of you. I feel God within me. I experience God in the sound of the bird, the bark of a dog and the meow of a cat. Where do you experience God?
For me the creative loving force we will call God is a mystery. God is way beyond anything we can comprehend. When we express God we are limited by our humanness. Many of you grew up with the image of God as father. Some of you still appreciate it today. But God is way beyond the image of father. There is no perfect definition of God. Here are some descriptions I use:
And much more.
Feminist are transforming our church and world through their take on how God – Three in One can tear down the barriers that humans have built up through greed, fear, and hunger for power. This is what feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruther says:
Feminists are seeking an alternative understanding of power: power as mutual-empowerment, power that does not dominate, force, or coerce, but heals, reconciles, and transforms. In the presence of such power, we are not demeaned or rendered vile and unworthy, nor made helpless and called to submit; rather we are called into healthy self-esteem, into the power of one’s own creative agency that can affirm the good potential and creative agency of others.
Healing power dissolves the competitive model of power relations where one side’s power is the disempowerment of the other side; where one side’s victory is the defeat of the other side. Healing power repents, forgives, and transforms relationships so that both sides of former conflicts are enlivened, made whole, and enabled to rejoice in one another’s well-being. This is the appropriate understanding of the power of God, not models of power drawn from human relations of domination, war, and violence.
I believe that God is most active in community. When we come together in community doing the work of the Spirit the work we do gets magnified many times over. The mystery that what we do as a community is much more than what the same number of individuals could do alone. Why does this happen? It is because the God energy becomes stronger and stronger when people with the same intent come together. It somehow unleashes the energy of the Holy Spirt on more and more people. It inspires acts of kindness and compassion in more and more people. It spreads the love of God among more and more people.
The wonder of God as father, son and holy spirit or creator, redeemer and sustainer that this force of love continues to open our hearts that of recognizing God in more and more people. We would not be marrying divorce people if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit. We wouldn’t be recognizing the ability of women to be clergy in our United Church without the Holy Spirit. We wouldn’t have become a welcoming church for Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, trans-gendered and two spirited people without the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy weaving in and out of our lives everything life-giving is possible, even the end of violence in our world not only toward people, but toward the whole creation.
May we unleash the power of the Holy on Foam Lake and continue to break down the barriers in our community whether they be social, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, and age that prevents us from truly being the people of God. The Spirit will guide us on our way.
Sermon – May 15th 2016
Pentecost Sunday (Year C)
By Roland Legge
In the prairies we can relate to wind! Wind has a way of stirring everything up. It can be both a refreshing breeze on a hot day or make it frigid on some cold days in the winter. Wind can push us around. I remember when I lived in downtown Toronto I would have to be very careful when I would be walking down Bay street with the cold winds coming off Lake Ontario making it extremely difficult to walk. Think for a moment of your own stories of wind.
On this day long ago the wind of the Holy Spirit woke up a lot of people. It opened people’s minds, hearts and bodies into the fullness that the Spirit created us to be. Pentecost was not just a one-time event but one that takes place every day if we pay attention.
Pentecost is about awakening to the reality that God has given us everything we need to live faithfully and fully in the world. Instead of being threatened by this reality the spirit of Pentecost helps us to embrace this Good News. Now everything good in the world that we thought to be impossible is now possible.
I invite each of you to find the Pentecost spirit right in you. The Spirit is awakened in us when we are able to quiet our minds. The Spirit is awakened in us when we retreat into our inner world to find out what is going on. Miraculously, the Spirit speaks to us through the sensations we are experiencing in our minds, bodies and hearts. So God is never far away. Now isn’t that Good News!
The spirit sure shook up the early followers of Jesus. Suddenly religious, social, cultural and gender walls began tumbling down. Jews who were following Jesus wanted to begin sharing this radical new way of living with Gentiles, women, and many people on the fringes of their communities. This was radical!
In the ministry of Paul and other early leader’s women became a vital part of this ministry not only in preaching, doing social justice, but in the financing of this ministry. Peter had the audacity of baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch! Saint Thecla began a movement to liberate women who wanted to be free to do the work of God without the oppression of the men in their lives. Many people living in abject poverty no longer were willing to be oppressed and started to challenge their oppressors with courage and confidence. Why was this happening? It was happening because of the belief that Jesus passed on that all people are equal in the “eyes” of God.
Sadly, as Christianity was embraced by the ruling elite, our church lost its radical hospitality. Patriarchy took over again. It didn’t take long to come back. We were back to the status quo probably about 100 years after Jesus died. But there has always been a fringe that wanted to take us back to the intentions of Jesus and the early Christian community.
I am not saying the early Christian community was perfect. We can tell from the letters of Paul there were many disagreements. People held strongly held opinions and yes there was much acrimony. But the acrimony mostly came from the teachings of Jesus that challenged those with power and privilege.
Today much of the Christian church is trying to reclaim that Pentecost Spirit that breaks down the walls instead of putting them up. Young people around our world are hungry for meaning, purpose and making the world a better place. For them church needs to be about community where we encourage each other to build up the Kindom of God over and over again. They want to be part of something that is really going to make a difference in their lives. They want to make a difference in the world.
Today I am experiencing the radical hospitality of the Spirit just as much outside the church as it is in it. I am meeting people from all walks of life. People are hungry to clean up the environment. People are hungry to end the many conflicts in the world. People are hungry to stop bullying. People are hungry to end domestic violence. There is so much good going on in our world if we just look for it. This is the power of Pentecost in action.
I feel like I am living in the midst of Pentecost winds. My life is going through radical change and I am so excited. It feels like a lot of the walls I have put up in the past are coming down and I am finding new life beyond it. Before I was too scared to try. What would you like to do, but too scared to try?
Some of the great religious/social movements have been fueled by the winds of Pentecost. The end of slavery in the western world came thanks to many faithful courageous people. Human rights for African Americans came from millions of faithful people of all races. The Spirit kept the people going when it was very difficult. The end of Apartheid in South Africa ended because of millions of people around the world forcing the South African government to change and great spiritual leaders such as Desmond Tutu helped to make it as peaceful a revolution as possible.
The wonder of the Spirit is that it never gives up. When the spirit resides in our hearts we feel called to do our part even if we don’t get to see the fruits of our work. The Spirit is calling us in Canada to bond with our Indigenous neighbours and finally end the oppression against these peoples. The Spirit is calling upon us to clean up our environment to save our world for all of life. In the end the spirit wants each of us to have meaningful work, great friends, good health and hearts bursting with love to share with all we meet. The Spirit wants us to honor all of God’s creation. We are just learning about what this really means for us. When we welcome the Holy Spirit we will have the energy to do what we are being called to do.
May God grant us the grace to embrace the Holy Spirit. When we fully embrace the Holy Spirit Foam Lake United Church will find even more joy, hope, energy and new life. The Good News being that we already have all the resources we need to do this.
Sermon – April 24th 2016
5th Sunday of Easter
By Roland Legge
It seems to be the rage today to talk about the need for change. Some say “change is inevitable”; others say “change or die”; even others say “change must come”.
Yet most of us do not want change. We get used to our routines. Our routines help us to stay calm through all the ups and downs of life. What are your routines? When I get up in the morning I shave and take my shower, eat breakfast, give Abby attention, brush my teeth and kiss Jen. Somehow this daily routine gives me comfort and helps me to face the day.
We have our routines in our churches too. We get comfortable in the ways we operate as a congregation. Every Sunday each of you have a good idea of what worship is going to look like. Our order of service does not change much. We have our favourite hymns. We all have our favourite places we like to sit in the church. We are used to coming to church at 10:30 am on Sundays. Some of us are used to going out for brunch after church.
The way we do the church business has not changed for years. We trust that certain people will do the work of the church so some of us don’t have to worry about it. If something needs to be done, we form a committee. We run our meetings in the way we have been used to for many years. Most of us don’t want to be at the meeting, and yet we spend a lot of time talking. We have our regular social and fund raising events that seem to magically happen every year. We like our routine. But we can not seem to understand why the younger generation often does not want to take part in the life of our church. Too often we want to blame them for not being there.
In the early church the followers of Jesus were also fixated in their old ways even when they were not working well. Peter was struggling with whom he should be ministering too. He had been brought up to only care for the Jews. Jesus had pushed him to love the foreigner, but he was being tempted to go back to his old comfortable ways. Many of his friends and colleagues were being tempted to go back to separating the so called “clean” Jew from the “un-clean” Gentile.
If it hadn’t been for the dream that Peter had he might never have changed. This is what he experienced in his vision:
There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me.
11:6 As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air.
11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’
11:8 But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
11:9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’
11:10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.
Acts 11: 5b – 10
So Peter takes a major turn in his ministry. After his vision, he is invited to the home of Simon, a Gentile, to baptize his whole family which he does. When he was there he would have had table fellowship, a meal, with them which was a big NO for the majority of early Christians. Many would see Peter as now being “un-clean”. Yes, Peter was breaking away from the routine. This made a lot of people uncomfortable. It even made people angry.
So in the early times in the new Christian movement there was a lot of conflict between the different Christian groups many whom remained strictly Jewish while others began a growing ministry to the Gentiles until eventually Christianity became a separate religion.
There is nothing wrong with routine and traditions. But it can become a problem if we get too stuck in our ways. In the United Church of Canada, we have become too comfortable with our routines in our style of worship, the way we see ourselves and in the way we organize ourselves.
The world is changing at a phenomenal pace these days and the church is being left behind. Most young people can not relate to us. We are using a “language” that most young people do not understand. It is going to take a lot of courage to re-think who we are, in the context of the time we now live in. I think we need to get back to our routes which is the great commandments. The commandments to love our selves, to love our neighbour and to love our God. Then to reflect and act on how the Spirit is calling us to live this out in our modern times.
In Foam Lake United Church, we are being called to love our selves, to love our neighbour and God. Many young people want to be part of movements that help them to live this out in their day to day lives. Our challenge is to create a worshiping community that brings us together to spread God’s love in real ways. It is a lot more than sitting in a pew every Sunday. This requires us to create opportunities to grow together, to care for each other, to celebrate together, to walk our talk in our communities and to always remember that we are part of something much greater. We are not only part of the whole Christian church we are part of the human family on planet earth.
In order for this to happen we must welcome all types of people into our community. We must be willing to invite people who are openly Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Trans-gendered. We must be willing to invite people who hold different beliefs than we have. We must be willing to invite people who are physically and/or mentally disabled. We must be willing to invite young families with noisy children. We must be willing to invite people who don’t seem to fit in e.g. The guy with the colored hair and earing and the women with pink hair in a short skirt. We must not only tolerate this we must be able to welcome the holy diversity of God’s creation with openness, welcome and love.
Are you ready to embrace the wondrous, awesome, incredible diversity of God? I am! Are you?
Sermon –March 20th 2016
Palm Passion Sunday (Year C)
By Roland Legge
Jesus is having a great day. He gets a great welcome when he arrives in Jerusalem on a donkey with people laying down their cloaks in honor of him. On the other side of town, the Roman army is arriving with great military fanfare with soldiers, weapons and war horses to keep the peace during the turbulent times of Passover. The mission of Jesus was so opposite of the mission of the Roman rulers.
Yet the great fanfare of Jesus did not last for long. I think we forget that Jesus was seen as a threat to those with privilege and power. First, Jesus was empowering the poor. The poor were starting to demand change from their rulers. Hence, the risk of insurrection was getting worse and worse as the Roman army oppressed the people more and more. He was a very different threat because he had a different type of power that came from within rather than through external sources such as armies, weapons and money. The Romans thought they could end his movement by killing him, but it didn’t work.
Jesus was also shaking up his own Jewish faith. He wanted to reform it so he used the traditions and stories of his own people to remind them who they were and where they came from. He challenged many of the Pharisaic rules that were getting in the way of people sharing the love of God e.g. not being able to heal a person on the Sabbath. He challenged the behaviour of some the Jewish leadership who were collaborating with the Roman invaders to keep their own power at a great cost to the average Jewish person.
Jesus was also challenging people’s attitudes toward women. While I wouldn’t consider Jesus a feminist he showed great respect and love for women. The scripture tells us that women played a very important roll in his movement. Some of his most courageous leaders were women even though non of them of were named as Disciples. He called on men to treat women in the same way that women are expected to treat men. I am sure this made a lot of people upset. It would be on the same level as how controversial it has been for the church to accept the GLBQ community as equal members of the church and even more importantly equally loved by God. Jesus riled up a lot of people.
Jesus also loved so many people on the fringes of society. He was able to recognize the spirit in every person he met whether they were tax collectors, women, prostitutes, a soldier, and any person that was considered by Jewish custom “un-clean”. He could talk and touch any one. He was able to see into a person’s heart and soul that made a lot of people uncomfortable. You couldn’t hide from Jesus.
Many people were looking forward to getting rid of Jesus. Finally, when he made his trip to Jerusalem the Romans had had enough. They set in motion the plan to kill him on a cross.
Jesus did not die to fulfill the scripture as the Bible says. Why does the Bible say this? People tried to make sense of how their Messiah could die like a criminal. The read back into their own scriptures to make sense of what happened. If they didn’t find some divine reason for his death on a cross they would not be taken seriously because no Messiah would die like Jesus did. So why did Jesus die? He died because he was a thorn in the side of the powerful just like Martin Luther King Junior died for his challenging the status quo of his time. The Roman invaders had to get rid of him and some of the religious authorities would be happy to see him gone because he was shaking up their faith.
Who in the end was responsible for Jesus death? It was the Romans’! The writers of the Gospels, Paul and his imitators had to get along with the Romans so they tried to put more of the blame on the Jews especially after the Christians were thrown out of the Synagogues. At the beginning it was like a family feud between the Jews who believed Jesus to the Messiah and those who did not. Sadly, these scriptures have been used as justification for violence against Jewish people and communities. It was this belief that paved the way for the Holocaust in Germany. In the end it was only the Romans who had the power to crucify a person. For the Romans Jesus would have been seen as a trouble maker.
For me it is important that we remember the story of Jesus crucifixion. I think we can all relate to the hopelessness that the early followers of Jesus felt. How they must have thought that this new and exciting movement was going to end with Jesus death.
There are many people in our world today who face the same kind of suffering that Jesus experienced. People are killed for their work in human rights, their religious views, feeding the poor, freedom, building democracy and much more. There are millions of people who can relate to the despair of the early followers. But we know that Easter does happen. Easter is no figment of our imagination. The love of Jesus was not stopped by his horrible death on the cross. In fact, the Jesus movement became magnified many times over bringing hope to thousands and thousands of people.
So I hope this Holy Season we will remember what Jesus was really about. Jesus was offering us no magical solution to solve our problems. He was offering us a way of life that can bring to life the Kingdom of God. A place where everyone has enough. A place where people are treated justly. A place where people are held accountable for their behaviour. A place where know one feels alone. A place where everyone feels loved. A place where the nations, nationalities, ethnic groups, people of different sexual orientations, able bodied and disabled, young and old can all get along with each other. But the bottom line being we need to have the faith and courage to live this out no matter what we face. We don’t need to get it perfect, but we do need to try. The miracle is that when we try the Spirt will help us along the way.
Sermon – October 4th, 2015
19th Sunday after Pentecost
Hebrew Scripture: Job 1:1; 2:1-10
By Roland Legge
I am fascinated by the tale of Job. The Bible tells us that he was a good and righteous man. He followed all the religious laws. He never spoke against God. He was good to his friends and family. In fact Job was perfect!
Job and his contemporaries believed that God would reward the good and righteous with good health and the comforts of life. No one doubted he was righteous because everything in life was going so well for him. He had good health. He had a healthy and strong family. He was blessed with great wealth. Life couldn’t be much better.
But then disaster strikes. The story tells us that God had been showing off to the angel Satan. God tells Satan how righteous Job is and that nothing, not even famine and illness, would turn Job against God. So Satan asks for God’s permission to see if he could get Job to curse God by making him suffer terribly. God agrees and allows Satan to test Job. So everything in Job’s life begins to fall apart. Life becomes a scourge of suffering and pain. Initially, Job holds up his optimism but then moves into a place of feeling sorry for himself.
Now when we refer to Satan, he was part of the Holy Order. His job was to report to God on the behavior of God’s people. Satan wasn’t the enemy of God, as was believed many year later. Satan was doing his duty by testing Job. He was part of God’s team.
Job becomes more miserable to be around. Eventually his family and friends begin to believe that he must be paying for some terrible sins he has committed. But Job insists on his faithfulness to God and refuses to curse God, despite the wishes of his wife.
However, I wonder if Job’s wife deserves a little bit of credit here. I think some of her womanly wisdom told her that if Job was going to be able to move on that he would need to let out the anger against God that she knew to be in him. I don’t believe she was tempting him to sin but encouraging him to heal.
The story of Job was challenging the world view of the time. The author of Job is challenging his readers to understand that blessing is not a reward for good behavior and neither is curse or punishment for sinfulness. God will do, what God will do, whether we like it or not. We will suffer for what seems like no reason. And often there is no reason other than being alive on this earth. At times of great blessing in our life we all need to do say thank you to God and not take any credit for it ourselves. Sometimes we are just at the right place at the right time.
Even, with all the scientific information we have today, we still deal with blessing and curse in much the same way as Job and his contemporaries did. How often have you caught yourself pleading to God: “What have I done to deserve this…?” I still experience people blaming the sick for their own illnesses. Does a person who smokes deserve to die of lung cancer more than a person who chooses to live in a large city with high amounts of smog? Does a person living with HIV/AIDS who contracted it from their husband any more saintly than a person who caught it through a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex? I don’t think so!
This same mindset continues on today in our economic theories. The god of capitalism, the “market” is understood/believed to act in the same way that world of Job and his contemporaries understood their God to act. Yet many people in our country believe the same today. The idea is that if you work hard you will benefit. If you don’t work hard you will suffer. So if anyone is struggling in life it must be their fault. If you are poor then it is your fault. If you are rich you deserve it. We blame the victim so do we don’t have to take any responsibility for the inequities in the world.
If we really think about it Capitalism is not perfect. Sometime it is very destructive. During last economic crisis our economies collapsed because of poor choices that were made out of greed. It wasn’t the people in the high positions who were hurt. It was the little guy, who paid the consequences. It was the ordinary people like us who paid the price.
Obviously there are consequences for choices we make. Yes a person who smokes is more likely to die of lung cancer. Even a person who drives everywhere and never exercises probably has a higher risk of heart disease. Yet each of us have and continue to make a mixture of choices. There is no perfect person out there. We all have our vices. But the consequences of our poor choices are not punishments from God. Many destructive things happen in our lives that are beyond our control.
The truth for me is that each of us has to take full responsibility for ourselves. Once we are able to open our hearts again we can consciously co-create with God to help to make the world a great place to be. To care for each other. To celebrate and share our success in the good times and hold each other up during the hard times. We are in this life together. We cannot do it without each other.
The God I believe in has promised to journey with us through all the ups and downs of life. For me God does not want us to suffer, but will help us to journey through the tough times and may even show us signs of resurrection through bringing out new life out of pain and hurt. God will continue to bless us in ways that boggle our minds and fill our hearts with joy.